steel

As if we needed more reminding, the country has a huge gap between costs required for transportation needs and the funding sources to pay for them.

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The Restless Medium

Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before By Michael Fried (Yale University Press, 409 pp., $55) I. Michael Fried,who shot to intellectual stardom in 1967 with an essay in Artforum called "Art and Objecthood," is an intimidating writer. He looks very closely. He has passionate feelings about what he sees. And he shapes his impressions into a theory that fits snugly with all the other theories he has ever had. Whatever his chosen subject--Diderot, Courbet, Manet, Kenneth Noland--he comes up with an interpretation that is as smoothly and tightly constructed as a stainless-steel box.

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I've gotten a handful of e-mails from wonks and fellow journalists today protesting (graciously, of course) my piece on Obama and protectionism. They almost all make some variation of the point that, whatever you think of Obama's tire tariff (and most concede it was disappointing but not egregious), he still loses out in the comparison to George W. Bush, whom, they say, evinced more free trade passion even as he was slapping tariffs on steel. Dan Drezner--so far as I can tell, the only one of my correspondents who's blogged his response--sums it up thus: Hmmm........

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For Your Protection

Earlier this month, Barack Obama apparently completed an anti-free-market trifecta, adding "protectionist" to a rap sheet that already included "deficit spender" and "serial nationalizer." And not just any protectionist, mind you. In the words of former Bush spokesman Tony Fratto, Obama will hereafter be known as "the president who ‘lost' trade for America." The following day, the Wall Street Journal editorial page elaborated: "America now has its first protectionist President since Herbert Hoover." So what did Obama do to earn this unsavory distinction?

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Of all the questions about climate policy, one of the biggest is whether a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gases will even work. Will it actually and tangibly reduce emissions? The only real-world example we have is the EU's Emissions Trading System, set up in 2005. Conservatives take it as a given that the ETS has failed—see Martin Livermore's Wall Street Journal column last week.

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On the evening of January 22, a few hours after his administration's debut news conference, Barack Obama made a surprise visit to the cramped quarters of the White House press corps. It was meant to be a friendly event, and Obama glad-handed his way through reporters and cameramen, exchanging light banter as he went. But Politico reporter Jonathan Martin wasn't there to chat. Martin pressed Obama about the president's decision to nominate William J. Lynn III, a former defense lobbyist, to deputy defense secretary and about Obama's pledge to curtail the influence of lobbyists.

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Officials from Canada and European Union have complained loudly that a provision in the House stimulus bill that requires American steel and iron for infrastructure projects violates the World Trade Organization rules. But guess what? They don't. The treaty allowed countries to make exceptions for government procurement for specific industries. The U.S. stipulated iron and steel. The EU--not to be outdone--stipulated drinking water, transportation, telecommunications, and energy. Canada stipulated steel, motor vehicles, and coal.

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Buy America Or Bye America

  Nothing in the Democrats' stimulus bill has created as much fuss as a provision in the House bill that requires that American steel be used in the infrastructure projects that it funds. Washington business lobbies dominated by multinational corporations have mobilized against it. The Washington Post and The Economist have railed against it, accusing the Democrats of re-enacting Smoot-Hawley legislation, the 1931 tariff that is often blamed for contributing to a world depression in the 1930s. Vice President Joe Biden has come to the defense of the provision, but the President, his press secre

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He's in Ohio today arguing that free trade can rescue depressed steel towns: "The biggest problem is not so much what's happened with free trade, but our inability to adjust to a new world economy," McCain said during a town hall-style meeting at Youngstown State University. "I think the answer is to understand that, free trade or not, we are in an information and technology revolution," he said.

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Growth Spurt

Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, doesn't come up in the news very often. And why would it? There's no war or ethnic strife. The city is poor, but not outlandishly so--in fact, thanks to a stable government and a lucrative mining industry, Botswana is one of Africa's rare economic success stories.

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